by Lauren Wulf
Whether you’re celebrating Presidents Day, honest Abe’s Day of birth, or just looking for a weekend getaway, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum is worth the trip to Springfield. This is an educational experience for adults and children of all ages to have fun, make memories and even learn a little something about our 16th president. Here’s a run down of museum highlights and tips to help you plan your next trip.
For tickets and more information:
Hours: 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM DAILY
Senior (62 and up) $9
Children (5 – 15) $6
Child (under 5) FREE
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Museum is located in downtown Springfield, Illinois. Just a short distance from the city of Chicago (175 miles), the museum makes for a great day trip or family weekend. Amtrack is another great option. Once in Springfield, take advantage of the public transportation or sight-seeing trolley.
The Plaza is the center of the Museum. When you first walk in you’ll be greeted by life size figures portraying the Lincoln family in 1861. This makes for a perfect family photo-op!
Behind the Lincoln family stands the front of the White House. Through the White House doors, takes you though, “Journey Two-The White House Years”.
Around the corner, you’ll see a depiction of the cabin Lincoln grew up in surrounded by a tall forest. This is the entrance for your first stop, “Journey One – The Pre-Presidential Years.”
There’s a countless number exhibits and galleries to visit at the Lincoln Museum. From 8 to 80-year-olds, exhibits are designed to engage all age groups. Here is a list of a few must-see attractions:
• The Treasures Gallery
• The Illinois Gallery
• Mrs. Lincoln’s Attic
• Journey One
• The Pre-Presidential Years
• The Union Theater
• Live Performance Theater
• Journey Two
• The White House Years
• Ask Mr. Lincoln
• Ghosts of the Library
• The Gateway
While you must try and visit all of the exhibits featured above, here are a few of my favorite things from the museum.
“Journey Two – The White House Years” depicts Lincoln’s political and personal life during his time in the White House, until his death. One particular section I found fascinating was the, “What Are They Wearing In Washington” exhibit. As you enter the White House, you’re greeted by figures of Mary Lincoln and her dressmaker. The oval room is filled with reproductions of dresses worn by woman considered to be Mary’s social rivals of the time.
“The Death of Willie” portion of Journey Two is a heart-breaking scene. Here you are standing with the Lincoln’s in their son Willie’s bedroom inside the White House. On the night of February 5, 1862, during a lavish White House party the grieving parents are shown standing at their son’s bedside as he takes a turn for the worst.
From here the exhibit goes on to show The Emancipation Proclamation, Gettysburg, and finally Lincoln’s assassination. Though Lincoln faced many trials both at home and as president, you’ll leave the exhibit with respect for the man who was able to make a difference through adversity.
Live Performance Theater
There are two major performances shown daily, “Ghosts of the Library” and “Lincoln’s Eyes.”
“Ghosts of the Library” is a dramatic special effects presentation that uses Holavision technology to capture the sense of discovery that curators feel as they work on a great research collection. Holavision allows the storyteller to appear to control of the scene around him. During the performance, you’ll see a “fade away” effect or disappearance of the on-stage actor. The ghosts of Lincoln and other characters seem to appear and disappear, their transparent images drifting through the library on stage.
Move over, Avatar! The special effects are a crowd pleaser.
“Lincoln’s Eyes” is quick look at the life and times of Lincoln. Usually performed in the Union Theater, you’ll see an overview of Lincoln’s personal and political life and dramas. Through the use of multi-projection screens, you’ll feel surrounded by the action.
Make A Weekend Out Of It
Here’s a list of a few hotels near the museum:
President Abraham Lincoln Hotel & Conference Center
Lauren Wulf, CBS Chicago